Episode 5.3

“Free To Be You and Me” Review
By Amanda Rebholz

When I was sitting at the round table at Comic Con in San Diego a few months ago and Misha Collins informed us, “Dean takes Castiel to a brothel, but things don’t exactly go as planned,” I’m not sure what I was expecting. Maybe Cas would turn out like the Metatron in Dogma, totally asexual and devoid of boy-parts. Maybe white light would shoot from his eyes, or his wings would choose an inopportune moment to pop out. After all, Anna could have normal sex, but she was also a female and a fallen angel; slightly different situation than our darling holy tax accountant.
So it was with much anticipation that I waited for this episode, and perhaps therein is where my problem lies.The writers have absolutely spoiled the fans in some aspects; little nuggets like Dean adjusting Castiel’s tie, and Castiel’s utterly clueless presence while Dean effortlessly lies to the cop, are priceless gems in this episode. Castiel is ethereal, a beautiful and strange creature who is so detached from humanity and yet longs to acclimate to it. Misha Collins’ portrayal of him is never anything but spot-on; the head-tilts, the quizzical furrowing of brows after one of Dean’s obscure pop culture references, and the gravelly timbre that is so different than Misha’s own voice are all delightfully consistent even as the character of Castiel develops.
As an audience member, I believe we are being led to think that Castiel is becoming more and more human and taking on more of Dean’s traits the longer time they spend in each other’s presence. This is the only explanation I can think of for things in this episode that struck me as out of character. It was almost as if a completely new writer came in, one who was not familiar with Castiel’s usual schtick, and they tried to make it work. I understand that we are meant to see a rebellious streak in Cas to mirror the one in Dean, but lines like “Come get me, you bastard” and “But for now, you’re my little bitch” are so uncharacteristic of Castiel that I actually sort of cringed when hearing Misha give voice to them.I know that Castiel is pissed (and justifiably so) about being smote and blown into pieces by Raphael, but the profanity, the petty satisfaction he gets from the act, seemed strange in his world. Likewise, as funny as the premise was of Dean taking Castiel to a whorehouse was, and as adorable as the scene of Cas swallowing his beer pretty much whole when the girl approaches him was, I felt like the scene teetered dangerously close to being out of character for Castiel as well.
While it’s obvious that Cas will go to great lengths to endear himself to Dean, I don’t believe that a devout, loyal angel of the Lord would agree to be a patron of a whorehouse, or to drink alcohol. What need would Cas have for them? His vessel is merely a meatsuit for him to get around; this is not the same as the sexual storyline with Anna, when she had not yet reclaimed her Grace and therefore was not technically an angel when she and Dean made love in the Impala. Castiel doesn’t eat, so what effect would booze have on him? In theory, none, since his body doesn’t perform any basic functions and the angel’s essence itself needs no nourishment and certainly no sexual stimulation.Or maybe I was just too used to my little asexual righteous warrior of God, and the sight of him agreeing to attend a whorehouse with Dean just totally threw me off. Either way, his embarrassed “I’ve never had occasion” response to Dean’s query about the state of his virginity just made me uncomfortable. Of course Castiel was a virgin; did we really need it spelled out for us? Nothing else about his presence has ever implied that he was sexual in any way. He is a creature of God, who lives and breathes for his Father. Sins of the flesh are beneath him, even on what he believes to be his last night on Earth.

Or perhaps that’s exactly why the writers chose to do what they did. Maybe they decided to show the lengths at which Castiel would remove himself from his comfort zone in order to impress his charge; lines like “You’re my little bitch” are straight from the mouth of Dean Winchester, and Castiel has sunk himself to the level of trying to use humor and bravado in a situation where he is obviously out of his element and uneasy. He is borrowing Dean’s defense mechanisms, perhaps trying them on for size. Which ties neatly into the subplot of the episode, where Dean claims stoutly that he’s better off without his family, and declares that he feels very free and fine without Sam there to worry about. We as an audience know that this isn’t true, because Dean and Sam are the peanut butter and jelly of the show, and they so clearly miss each other that it’s almost painful to watch. Yet both of them are growing on their own; Dean is hunting alone and doing just fine, and Sam was making a new life for himself in anonymity. Yet hunting is still in his blood (hence his phone call to Bobby; Sam can’t turn off the part of his brain always looking for omens and signs) and Sam is still in Dean’s blood, hence Dean trying to bond with his angel and letting him ride in Sam’s seat in the Impala. Not to mention that Dean asks for his necklace back again; he is obviously quite concerned with it being in Castiel’s possession and can’t wait to get his brother’s gift back around his neck where it’s been for the past two decades.

The concept of change stays true even though the scene when the two hunters, angry and now aware that Sam is the one who began the apocalypse, attack Sam and try to force-feed him demon blood to get him to “Hulk out”. Sam is clearly tempted, as he was in “Good God, Ya’ll” when he saw the blood on Ruby’s knife. Sam is just like any other addict; he will be faced with these challenges and he will have to decide how he’ll cope with them. For a moment, I truly believed that he drank the blood; when he spat it into the man’s face, I gave an internal cheer. Good for him, for his moral fortitude and his resolution to keep his promise to his brother that he is well and truly done with drinking blood to get power. Of course the temptation is there, but the fact that he came so close as to actually have it in his mouth and not-swallow speaks volumes about the inner strength of Sam, his unwavering determination.

Which leads us to the final point driven home in the episode: Sam is the vessel for Lucifer. Of course, this was the majority of fan speculation throughout season 4; we all knew that Sam was being primed for something, with Ruby feeding him demon blood and encouraging him to exercise his mental powers as often as possible, to the angels warning him that he was on a dark path and would be destroyed if he continued. In many ways, Sam is parallel to Lucifer already; he was the beautiful, favorite son of his Father, while the other was the loyal unquestioning soldier. Sam questioned his father’s motives and desires, and as a result, he was offered an ultimatum: “If you walk out that door, don’t you ever come back.” Sounds a lot like Lucifer being kicked out of Heaven, doesn’t it? Sam then began a quest to find a niche for himself without his family, which ultimately led him to destruction, chaos, hurting a lot of people, and an unquenchable thirst for power. Sam’s intentions may have been good, but weren’t Lucifer’s also in the beginning? Lucifer’s original crime was being too loyal to his Father, not wanting to bow down to the humans. He was punished for being too good of a son. And Sam was cast out for wanting a normal life without hunting and bloodshed and vengeance. The two, then, are destined to run side by side until the point when Lucifer will eventually catch up to Sam and offer him the choice. As he promised, he won’t lie to Sam and he won’t trick him, but he will convince him. This can only lead our imaginations to wonder: what will Lucifer have to do to convince Sam to give him permission to be his vessel? Will he torture and possibly kill the people closest to Sam? Will he continue to revive painful ghosts from Sam’s past to try and get through to him? Or in the end, when Sam is completely alone and cut off from Dean, will it come down to an epic battle between Michael-in-Dean’s-skin and Lucifer-in-Sam’s in an ultimate fight to the finish?

Whatever the outcome, it’s sure to be great TV.